Up until fairly recently (historically speaking) most of mankind was a scattered bunch of clans and tribes, roaming about hunting and gathering. After the advent of organized agriculture (around 10,000 years ago or so) a shift began to occur. As food began to be preserved for longer and longer periods it gained in value. This gain produced many haves and have-nots. The haves became more powerful and attained the upper hand, the have-nots ended up working for them, usually not completely voluntarily. In some places this took the form of outright slavery. In other places there were serfs and feifdoms, closely tied to the concept of land ownership. Later the concepts of apprenticeships and indentured servitude came to the forefront. And with the rise of the Industrial Revolution, the capitalist concepts of employment and wages overtook almost all other systems of providing for one’s own basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
One group resisted this employment paradigm on a large scale up until fairly recently: the farmer. For awhile the automation of the farming process allowed small family farms to greatly increase production and yet remain independent. But now massive industrial corporations have taken over even this and the small family farm almost disappeared.
Most people today will still choose the path of least resistance, which is to work for someone else. In a sense they have much in common with the indentured servant and the slave. Of course they live in relative luxury when compared to those who lived centuries ago, but they still place much of their security in the hands of others.
But there are still those who choose the path of self-reliance, who wish to plant and harvest, to produce goods and sell or barter them. They wish to have more control over their own destinies. Most will not choose actual, physical farming (although small farms are definitely making a comeback) but they share much in common with the farmer.
One further twist which was almost unimaginable just twenty years ago is the internet. Global connectivity has brought about some interesting changes and possibilities. Everyone from the largest corporation to the smallest, poorest individual can potentially leverage it for the purpose of providing for themselves. And while most who strike out on their own will still do so within the confines of traditional business products and ideas, like consulting or freelancing, the internet has produced a wave of people who are trying to take advantage of the opportunity in new and exciting ways. We are trying to do this ourselves. We’re certainly not the first nor the last, but it seems to be our best bet to break free of our standard 8-5 jobs.
The internet has had a big impact on self-employment. It is theoretically possible to run a true business without an office or even a traditional web page! Those who embrace this lifestyle have attempted to define themselves with many different terms, such as:
- Digital nomad
- Lifestyle designer
- Location Independent Professional
In thinking about this today, it occurred to me that these people could also be called Digital Farmers. The product varies. It could be an ebook or a service or software. But it is unique and produced by individuals or small teams. It is then sold on the market. And yet both the product and the market are digital. Thus: Digital Farmer.
I’m not sure if this concept will catch on or not. It’s an analogy, and analogies can only go so far, but I kinda like it.
So how about you? Are you a Digital Farmer?